Friday, 26 June 2015

'I Come in Peace!': A retrospective review of Dark Angel (1990)

One badass cop. 
One pencil-pushing FBI agent. 
And an alien drug dealer. 

As someone who has stayed awake through three Dolph Lundgren movies, I can safely say this is the best Dolph Lundgren movie EVER MADE. Dark Angel (aka I Come In Peace) is an unapologetic action flick from people who know how to shoot a dude running across a row of cars while they blow up behind him. 

The plot is really simple. Dolph Lundgren plays a rogue cop who doesn't play by the rules (Zzz). Brian Benben plays an FBI agent who goes by the book (Zzz). Brought together by a bizarre series of murders, they quickly realise their suspect is not of this world...

Sure, it's rock-stupid, occasionally betrays its low budget and takes few risks with its plot or characters, but there is a charm to ICIP (let's just ignore its other title) which keeps it above being just another bland buddy cop film. Part of that has to do with the premise -- an alien drug dealer has come to Earth to steal human adrenaline so he can sell it to the rest of his species. To boost his supply, he steals heroin from his human counterparts and uses it to juice up his victims. He also says 'I come in peace!' a lot.

Another positive is the dialogue. Script-doctored by a young, uncredited David Koepp (Jurassic Park), the banter between our heroes crackles in a way so many of its ilk do not. Freed from being a monosyllabic lunkhead, Lundgren spits out a strong supply of one liners with aplomb, more than matching his co-star's never-ending patter. And in what could have been an incredibly annoying role as a by-the-book Fed, Brian Benben is a joy. More competent than Lundgren gives him credit for, he quickly gains his new partner's respect as they attempt to hunt down their alien foe while contending with their respective superiors' ulterior motives for the alien.

The final thing in this movie's favour is the direction. A former stuntman, Craig R. Baxley had previously directed the cult film Action Jackson. Pulling in favours from his friends, and experienced with the ins-and-outs of shooting action, Baxley manages to turn out a visually interesting film with dynamic, exciting set pieces that would not look out of place in a bigger film. 

A fun little b-movie in the mould of The Hidden and Lethal Weapon, I Come In Peace is not particularly original, but has the good sense to know exactly what it is and play to its strengths. A good Friday night watch.

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